Measuring employee productivity is the most straightforward way to find out which members of your team are working efficiently. Here's an in-depth look at everything supervisors need to know about this metric.
Why is it important to measure employee productivity?
For the longest time, there's been a common standard in the conventional approach to management that if employees are present at work and perform their work tasks, all is well.
Yet today's more competitive business environment doesn't favor that approach, and here's why:
According to the Blind survey, precisely half of employees at tech companies realistically spend less than four hours a day on work-related activities. What's more, 11% of employees are busy with work tasks for only 1 or 2 hours a day. And that's if you choose to believe what employees have told the interviewer. We can only assume that in reality things are even worse.
Why does it happen in companies that surely are aware of KPIs, Scrum, task control and the system of reports? It's really rather obvious – people are naturally eager to save energy, and any control system that doesn't ensure complete transparency can be easily cheated.
Now imagine that your employees actually spend merely 4 hours a day on work, while your competitor has solved this issue and his team is actually working for around 8 hours each day. It's a serious drawback that could be fatal to your business, and the sooner you fix it, the better.
That's where the best modern productivity metric comes into play. We're talking about employee monitoring software. In this article, we'll discuss how such software works and, most importantly, how it actually measures productivity.
How do you measure employee productivity?
The first thing you ought to take care of is gathering sufficiently detailed data. To measure employee productivity, you need to separate productive activity from unproductive and from idleness in general. To do that, you need to know exactly what activities your employees are engaged in.
This problem can't be solved by ordinary time trackers or video surveillance, you'll actually need a proper employee monitoring tool. We've already covered the difference between EMS and a time tracker in a previous article that touched upon the implementation of employee monitoring software.
Kickidler, for example, collects the following information:
- What apps are open on the employee's computer;
- Which of them are being used and when;
- Which browser tabs are running, how much time the person spends in each of them, what they are doing there;
- What keys the employee presses and when;
- How vigorously the employee works at the PC.
In addition, Kickidler records videos of employees' monitors. Moreover, the program allows you to monitor your subordinates' desktops in real time. Thus, you get all possible data on employees' activity at their computers.
How does Kickidler measure productivity?
One of the main advantages of our solution is the detailed analytical reports that are generated in real time. Simply collecting data on employee actions isn't enough; this data needs to be processed and presented in an easy-to-understand form, so that you'll only need to glance at the report to assess the situation.
In order to do so, Kickidler:
- Classifies each employee action as:
- Calculates the percentage of each group within the total amount of worktime;
- Links the information it obtains to the timeline and visualizes it in the form of illustrative diagrams.
The estimates are updated every second, which allows us to determine the actual effort employee put into their work, and that way we obtain highly accurate results.
Why is it important to update data every second?
Let's use a simple example. You have two specialists who are preparing a monthly report in Excel. One of them is working diligently, quickly and meticulously, while the other one is taking his sweet time drinking coffee and chatting with friends. The latter one also uses apps that are considered productive, yet in reality he performs useful activity (which is typing formulas into cells) less often and gets distracted from work more.
Programs that monitor productivity less frequently than once a second may simply not notice the difference, since both employees are using Excel. Everything seems fine. And managers may be left wondering why Specialist A has done twice as much work as Specialist B when their productivity rates seem to be equal.
Kickidler tracks activity every second, so the difference in performance of these two employees will be apparent.
It's also possible that the "slow" employee is working very thoroughly, and the "fast" one is in a constant rush, working carelessly and sloppily. By comparing Kickidler's analytics with the results these employees show, an experienced manager will be able to figure out the reasons behind Specialist B's shoddy work with the help of accurate data.
What should the productivity of a good employee be like?
Speaking of thorough work, it's important to understand that it's pretty much impossible to achieve 100% productivity each day. Since the program monitors employee's actions every second, periods of idleness are inevitable. And there will be a lot of them, perhaps more than in similar services that monitor employee activity less frequently than once a second. There are two things to consider here:
- Nature and duration of idleness. If an employee has spent only 35 minutes in an hour on productive activities, but all their downtime is divided in small increments and evenly distributed between productive tasks, everything's fine. But if they've spent twenty minutes scrolling through social media or they’ve simply stepped away from the computer, the situation should be monitored more closely;
- Standard productivity for a particular job. For example, a first-line support worker has almost no need to reflect upon their actions since they work by scripts, so their standard productivity is 60-65%. A technical writer, on the other hand, has to spend some time thinking over the text, so a productivity of 35-45% would be excellent for them.
Let's take the employees of a design bureau as an example – they are engaged in intellectual work and spend a lot of time thinking over projects. At first glance, it may seem almost unrealistic to estimate their productivity, but Kickidler can actually help with that as well.
First, the procrastination of a creative employee doesn't look any different from any other procrastination. They use social networks, visit entertainment and news sites, spend time in messengers – all of which clearly don't help with pondering complex tasks.
Second, there's a simple and universal trick – compare the productivity of several employees who have similar responsibilities.
At once you'll be able to see who's working hard and who's just slacking off or not coping well. To be safe, verify that with the results employees show. In our experience, in 95% of cases the employee who's deemed the least productive by Kickidler is also the most inefficient according to their work results.
Then all you have to do is derive an average rate for each position, and that's it. The reports will immediately reveal your employees' actual performance.
Observe both productive and unproductive employee activity as well as periods of idleness. If employees spend more than 15 minutes per hour or two every day on social media and entertainment sites, or if they take long breaks more often than they should, it's another red flag. To identify and quickly respond to such deviations, Kickidler has special feature called Autokick.
What reports help assess employee productivity?
Kickidler automatically generates several reports that help you evaluate an employee's performance from various perspectives. There are standard reports in the program's Viewer. There's the Report on productivity that shows you a consolidated productivity of all your employees.
There's also the Report on dynamics that shows you the declines and rises of your staff's productivity. It's extremely helpful when you need to schedule a briefing by selecting the time slot when your employees are least likely to be engaged in productive work at their PCs. It also helps you recognize those employees who are no longer motivated by their work.
In addition to regular reports in the Viewer, there are also extended reports in the Web interface of the program. The first one is the "Details of the Day" report:
Essentially, it's a consolidated report on employees' productivity that displays exactly what any given employee was doing and how engaged they were on a visual timeline of the day. Pie charts on the left display the total ratio of productive and unproductive activities as well as the periods of idleness.
Another metric is Employee Rating:
It allows you to compare your subordinates to one another very easily. You can compare them by any type of activity, whether productive, unproductive, neutral or inactivity in general. Straight away you'll see who should be rewarded and who should be monitored more closely.
There's also a detailed report on apps:
It displays all the apps your employees have used as well as the amount of time they've spent in each one of them.
Is it possible to hide something from Kickidler?
When it comes to working at the computer, Kickidler is impossible to cheat. First, the monitoring process is completely automated, and the employee has no control over it. Second, our program records videos of the screens. You can track the history of employees' PC activity and filter out the most suspicious actions thanks to special video labeling. And third, you can always see a grid of your employees' screens thanks to Online Monitoring feature. To make it even more convenient for you, the screen of the employee who's currently engaged in suspicious activity will be highlighted with red.
You will be able to identify the exact moments your employees get distracted from their work or do something suspicious. The program helps notice even the times when your team members decide to update their resumes or surf job sites.
Kickidler vs. competitors: which productivity monitoring technique is superior?
Every legitimate employee monitoring system has its own method for analyzing productivity. We've compared Kickidler's approach with two other popular solutions: Hubstaff and Time Doctor. Earlier we did a price comparison for employee monitoring software.
Kickidler vs. Hubstaff comparison
Technically speaking, Hubstaff's productivity measurement methods are quite similar to ours. The system determines what app an employee is using and then measures their activity based on keystrokes and mouse clicks. The difference is that we collect data every second, while Hubstaff does it less frequently. It makes their reports look fancier, yet ours are more detailed and provide much more accurate information.
It becomes important in the following situations:
- 1.Two employees put the same amount of effort into their work, but the first employee is more skilled – he takes fewer breaks, figures out tasks more quickly and overall shows better results. Hubstaff won't notice it, but Kickidler will;
- 2.More detailed data allows you to clearly identify the peaks and drops in staff performance – it's useful for planning the work day (for example, when scheduling meetings).
Furthermore, Hubstaff doesn't record videos of employees' screens, so there are fewer means of verifying the situation.
Kickidler vs. Time Doctor comparison
Time Doctor uses a rather different approach. The system invites the supervisor to create specific tasks and assign them to employees. The employees themselves start the productivity timer and stop it when they stop working. As a result, productivity reports are generated in connection to certain projects.
At first glance, it makes sense, yet in practice this approach only creates extra workload for both employees and supervisors. Managers waste their time logging and assigning tasks in the system, and if subordinates forget to press the button, nothing gets recorded. It's inconvenient and rather non-transparent, plus it doesn't provide accurate information on the amount of time employees spend on the tasks they are assigned.
We are avid advocates of full automation and simplification, so that work processes become more convenient for everyone. That's why Kickidler works autonomously, and you simply get the results.
Yes, tracking productivity in relation to a certain task is a sensible solution, but to do that, you just need to compare the performance of your employees to one another. Copywriters get measured against other copywriters, programmers – against other programmers, managers – against other managers and so on. This way everything will be clear and transparent.
Besides, you can always find out exactly what a certain employee was doing with the help of Online Monitoring and Video Screen Recording features.
Kickidler presents you with all the information you may need, and all you have to do is draw conclusions. That's exactly how employee monitoring software should operate.
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Kickidler Employee Monitoring Software